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the reality is, use of firearms silencers – or suppressors – is illegal for civilians in Massachusetts. Now, local legislators are hoping for a rewrite they say will better protect the ears of hunters, recreational


Now, local legislators are hoping for a rewrite they say will better protect the ears of hunters, recreational shooters and their neighbors.

“This is not a silencer from a James Bond film, this is not the movies,” said state Rep. Paul K. Frost, R-Auburn, who is sponsoring legislation to make silencers legal for civilian use. “This is something that is still going to make a significant amount of noise, but for sportsmen and hunters, it is something that will help protect their hearing.”

State Sen. Michael O. Moore, D-Millbury, who is filing a similar bill in the Senate, agreed.

“It’s more of a muffling, not a silencing,” Mr. Moore said. “Sportsmen and people living next to firing ranges and sportsmen’s clubs will benefit … Nothing will silence the noise, but this will drastically reduce the noise that abutters of these two facilities will have to hear.”

Gun control advocates and some police chiefs have opposed the proposed legislation, saying that silencers are unsafe because they could enable gunshots to go undetected.

“Silencers both diminish and distort the sound of gunfire,” said Matthew Nugent, a leader of the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence. “The report of a rifle or from a handgun, if clear enough and loud enough, allows law enforcement to detect it and respond accordingly. It is imperative on the streets of Boston, Worcester, or Springfield that if you hear a gunshot you are able to respond accordingly.”

Suppressors, or silencers, are tubular-shaped mufflers attached to the ends of gun barrels to dampen the noise of gunshots. Gun supporters are careful to call the devices suppressors rather than silencers, the latter term which they feel is misleading. Gun control advocates generally call them silencers. Manufacturers refer to them as suppressors and as silencers on websites, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives refers to silencers in reports.

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